Facebook Privacy and Your Personal Brand


Last week I guest-hosted the monthly Tweet Chat of the Young Professionals Network. This is a very smart and active group of young PR pros affiliated with PRSA Chicago. The topic was career advancement in the PR 2.0 world, which naturally lead to some discussion of privacy on Facebook. I suggested we continue the privacy discussion somewhere … so let’s do it here!

I suggested to the YPN crowd that as PR, Communications, and Marketing professionals that their social channels should be public, transparent, and open to communicate with anyone.

To be very clear, I am not suggesting that your profiles and passwords be turned over to your employer. There’s a big difference between posting publicly and letting an employer access your private messages! If an employer asks for your passwords, run fast! You don’t want to work there.

So what do I mean by being transparent on your social channels? Think of yourself as your own brand. Keep your Facebook profile open and tell your story in a way that clients, employers, and business connections would find appealing.

But what about those drunken college photos that you want to post? Get over it. No one cares. If you must share old pictures with your friends, send them via email or text. To whom, as your own personal brand, are you trying to appeal? Potential clients and employers? Or someone you partied with a few years ago? 

Facebook is currently your most valuable way to connect with any business contacts. I’ve heard many young PR pros argue that they don’t want to Friend their boss, a client, or even a journalist / blogger on Facebook. If that’s your bottom line, I would suggest a career outside of Communications.

And, go all the way with transparency. Don’t rely on “friends of friends”-only posts, or trusting Facebook privacy settings, which fail more often than you know.

So let’s hear it! Are you marketing yourself publicly or staying private?